Friday Four

Friday, May 23, 2014

1. I have a small backlog of beer recommendations to make, to the point that I considered devoting the whole of today's post to them. Instead, I'll kick off with my favorite of the lot, New Holland's Dragon's Milk, a bourbon barrel stout that the brewer variously describes as, a "stout with roasty malt character intermingled with deep vanilla tones, all dancing in an oak bath", elaborating that:
Dragon's milk is a 17th century term used to describe the strong beer usually reserved for royalty. This strong ale was aged in oak for over 120 days. The aging process extracts flavors from the wood, which contribute to its complex character. Hints of bourbon flavor perfectly compliment its roasted malts to produce a beer fit for a king. [minor edits]
The beer lives up to the above description. Accordingly, I found it to be the perfect way to celebrate the revelation that a recent health scare -- which prompted me to become a teetotaler for over a month as a precaution -- was a false alarm.

2. Pumpkin ratted out Little Man for the first time. Well, not quite, but I see that I have supplied her the phrase and the idea, when my intention was merely to make a point of acknowledging that I was wrong to blame my daughter for a small mess...

Mrs. Van Horn had given her some "Gatorator" in a Big Girl glass before they all went to the den, so I could start getting dinner ready. Soon after, I heard my wife react to a spill. "Why did you take her in there with that? We have sippy cups for that," I said, racing in with paper towels.

"[Little Man] came over and grabbed it."

"Oh, okay. That was [Little Man]'s fault. I'll get you some more, Pumpkin."

"That was [Little Man]'s fault," Pumpkin chimed in.

3. An article describing its author's experiment with replacing her usual soap-and-shapoo skin hygiene regimen with a new spray-on bacterial preparation is interesting on many levels:
AOBiome does not market its product as an alternative to conventional cleansers, but it notes that some regular users may find themselves less reliant on soaps, moisturizers and deodorants after as little as a month. [Spiros] Jamas, a quiet, serial entrepreneur with a doctorate in biotechnology, incorporated N. eutropha into his hygiene routine years ago; today he uses soap just twice a week. The chairman of the company's board of directors, Jamie Heywood, lathers up once or twice a month and shampoos just three times a year. The most extreme case is David Whitlock, the M.I.T.-trained chemical engineer who invented AO+. He has not showered for the past 12 years. He occasionally takes a sponge bath to wash away grime but trusts his skin's bacterial colony to do the rest. I met these men. I got close enough to shake their hands, engage in casual conversation and note that they in no way conveyed a sense of being "unclean" in either the visual or olfactory sense. [minor edits]
The author also notes that her acne cleared up, remarking, "How funny it would be if adding bacteria were the answer all along." This early attempt to apply what is being learned about the role of naturally-occurring bacteria (the "microbiome", aka, "the second genome") in human health is interesting as much for what remains unknown as what is being learned.

Not having any major problems I can attribute to my own current routine, not wanting greasy hair, and sure that there is more to this picture, I am much more of an interested spectator than a potential customer.

4. Reprogramming the immune system to fight cancer looks promising for patients, not to mention lucrative for pharmaceutical firms:
Everything changed for Novartis with a patient named Douglas Olson, then 64, who had been diagnosed 14 years before with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. His disease no longer responded to chemo, and he had two years to live without a risky bone marrow transplant. Then he got the cell treatment that Novartis would soon buy. He spiked a fever of 103 and had to be hospitalized because his kidneys were failing. His kidneys made it, but the cancer didn't. Five pounds of cancer cells disappeared from his blood and bone marrow. "I had a complete mind shift. All of a sudden you don't have this thing sitting there waiting to kill you." He bought a boat and, four years later, still cancer free, scheduled an interview with Forbes around chainsawing trees on his Pennsylvania property. [minor edits]
Believe it or not, the sub-plot concerning how the pharmaceutical giant, Novartis, is remaking itself to focus on fighting cancer will vie with that of the breakthrough for your attention.

-- CAV

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